An open letter to the Biden-Harris administration

Below is a note from Box CEO, Aaron Levie, to the Biden-Harris administration. We look forward to working with this new administration to solve for some of the most pressing challenges facing the tech sector to ensure America remains at the forefront of technological innovation.

Dear President Biden and Vice President Harris,

I want to congratulate you on your inauguration as our 46th President of the United States. I want to also congratulate Vice President Harris on her momentous and historic achievement as the nation's first woman, first African American, first woman of South Asian descent, and first daughter of immigrants to become Vice President. 

As your Administration turns to the business of policy making and strengthening our nation internally and on the global stage, we believe there are vital issues that will drive America's economic recovery and ultimately sustain our competitiveness in the near and long-term. In the increasingly digital economy, it is more important than ever that we invest in our tech infrastructure, spur innovation and create a regulatory framework and industrial policies that foster broadly shared, equitable growth for all our communities. From manufacturing and transportation to banking and life sciences, every industry has benefited from America's technological advancements. In order to help ensure we remain at the forefront of technological innovation, we encourage you to consider the following key issues.

Security and data protection

The recent SolarWinds cyberattacks is unprecedented. It is the largest ever coordinated cyberattack waged against US government agencies and the hundreds of private companies in the government's supply chain. While we have yet to learn the full scope of the attack, one thing is crystal clear - we must act quickly to reimagine our current approach to data security. This requires forward-thinking regulations that ensure Federal, state and local governments have adequate funding to harden their IT infrastructures.  In order to create a harmonized and united front against foreign cyber adversaries, this will also require a government-wide standard of data security and strong partnership with companies and industry leaders. 

Modernizing regulation and tech innovation

With digital platforms becoming more and more integral to our personal and professional lives, ensuring consumer safety, privacy, and fair competition is more important than ever before. Over the past decade we've seen how significant a role internet services play in our daily lives, impacting the global economy, our elections, the news we read, and the choices that consumers have in the tools they use. This is why our digital economy must be built on clear, predictable policy, ranging from data security and national data privacy requirements to standard approaches for interoperability between platforms. In many ways, our current regulatory framework for large companies continues to be built for the Industrial era. We have yet to remedy gaps in data privacy regulation while the world continues to become increasingly dependent on global data sharing and collaboration. The business community and government must work together in the spirit of American enterprise to usher in new federal regulations fit for the digital age, and we must work with our allies across the globe to create a more unified approach to these standards.

Education and the future of jobs

The economy is in a fragile position. In the near-term, we know that the millions of jobs lost and business closures due to COVID-19 are causing extreme financial challenges for so many Americans. We need swift, and ongoing action by the Federal government to ensure that those out of work are protected and provided with the appropriate social safety nets to survive this crisis. We also need to continue to support small businesses and stimulate the economy in the near-term through continued government assistance. And as we look out in the long-term, we must ensure that we have an economy built for a future defined by clean energy, the digital economy, new and modern manufacturing, new service sectors, and more. And preparing for that starts right within our educational institutions. To remain at the forefront of technological advancement, it is imperative that we provide Americans with access to a robust Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) focused education. According to Code.Org, less than 1 out of 4 K-12 schools provide curriculum on computer science. More than 4 in 10 adults earning less than $30,000 a year do not have access to home broadband services (44%) or a traditional computer (46%). Currently, there are over 500,000 computing-centered job openings in the U.S. with over 150,000 in IT support alone. To harness the full potential of our workforce, we must enact transformative change in our educational system. We cannot risk taking a slow and tepid approach.

Immigration

We are a nation founded, built on, and supported by immigrants. According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, 45% of Fortune 500 companies have been founded or co-founded by an immigrant or by a child of an immigrant. We simply cannot afford hardline, reactionary policies that limit legal immigration channels such as H1-B visas. Doing so will be counter-productive and detrimental to our nation's economic recovery and long-term competitiveness. In order for the US to maintain its place as a global technology leader, our nation must continue to be the destination of top talent. In 2005, when we started Box, there weren't any "unicorns" (private technology companies valued at over one billion dollars), but today there are hundreds of unicorn start ups and growing young public companies -- and yet, the annual volume of H1-B visas is exactly the same as it was 15 years ago. We must build a framework and system to bring in highly skilled and motivated talent into the country that grows with market demand and opportunity, not one that instantly becomes more outdated by the year. America's leadership position in tech and tech-related fields is not guaranteed, and every day that America is not the most welcoming place to start and grow a digital company further erodes our lead. 

Our nation stands at a critical inflection point. Your Administration -- as you stated in your inaugural address -- has been tasked to, in your words, "restore the soul and to secure the future of America.”  And while we know it will not be easy, Box is committed to collaborating with and supporting your Administration in helping our nation "meet this moment" in history.

-Aaron